Word of Mouth…Period!

Watching 25,000 people at a football match in Wellington on Sunday was a great reminder of how strong word of mouth marketing really is! When people get a great experience and tell others the snowball effect is massive. Its entirely possible that the stadium in Wellington could be full come Sunday week  if the talk on the street is an indicator…which I think it is. People are buzzing and talking it up. This word of mouth plus a bit of social media, facebook and twitter commentry is the best marketing of all.

Get to “The Nix” v Newcastle semi-final its the best show in town at the moment!


Game Changing!

“09 is Game Changing?”

In my 21 years in the IT recruitment industry I think we may be just be coming out of the most ‘game changing’ period I have seen. Sure 1990 was tough post the ’87 crash and Y2K created huge opportunity, then a following lull, but this may be different!

1. The flexible workforce is now a reality!
2. Price transparency and value is for real!
3. Social networks is the great technology enabler!
4. “people are our most important asset”… this Mantra will now be tested like never before!

Flexible workforce: Yep. Short-term, fixed term, part-time, job share, hourly rate, fixed rate, daily rate, work from home, virtual workforce, webcasting, crowd-sourcing or cloud. Whatever it takes and whatever is affordable is driving very creative workforce solutions. This is now a reality and is a change that must be embraced by employers, recruiters, candidates, HR professionals and consultants. Whilst the rhetoric has been around a while we are now genuinely seeing these solutions being deployed with greater acceptance.

Price & Value: Perhaps it the stark financial reality everyone has needed to face that has finally cut through cultures of excess and lack of accountability. This has demanded an honesty amongst executives and suppliers that has driven price down where value didn’t equate. From this moment I reckon that value will be much more closely aligned to price especially in the services and consultancy supply community. People will still pay well for value but won’t accept excess.

Web 3.0: Social Networks are growing at such a rate that embracing it is the only option. Relationships, trust and knowledge will always underpin ultimate success but online branding and community development will drive our sourcing strategies, brand recognition, reputation and ultimately our effectiveness. Think price and value as above! Relevance to our audience and tools to reach them is extraordinarily challenging yet exciting for our industry. We’re all ears at this stage as we navigate forward trying out new tools and techniques!

“Yeah Right”: As green shoots appear company cultures will be tested like never before and lip service to employee engagement practices will come at a hefty price. Opportunities offshore will begin to open up again and a candidate short market will re-appear sooner than some think. Corporate behaviour over the last 12-18 months may just determine their success over the next 24 months. Some of the brutal treatment dished out by some large multi-nationals could come home to roost as people once again have choice.

Overall we see much more positivity than we did even 3 months ago. Unemployment forecasts and being reduced and most companies are cautiously optimistic about the year ahead. Have a happy and safe Xmas break.

Mark Chote
Managing Director
920 career agents

Competing on price?

Tight market and a scarcity of new business opportunity has driven some industry players to compete on price as their lead strategy. I’ve always thought that competing on price alone was a dangerous game but maybe I’m wrong. I accept some movement is at times required but recently I’ve been made aware of competitors doing business at 30% of our normal industry terms.

My issues have always been:

1. Can I retain my best people if I can’t pay them well because my fees are so light?

2. Am I respecting the professional competence of my people?

3. Can I go back to my clients and double or triple my fees once the market improves?

4. Will someone always be prepared to go cheaper and if so what is the bottom?

5. Can I actually do the right thing by my client if it’s not sustainable in terms of profitability?

6. If my only value is price then where does it stop and how sustainable is my business?

Perhaps I’m ignoring an extrodinarily challenging market but I would much rather push up the value chain with increased service whilst accepting less volume than playing in a pricing war.

It will be interesting to observe where these price players go from here?

Get Ready!

Now is a great time to focus on becoming “World Class” at recruitment & retention. Competitive Advantage will stem from highly motivated and capable employees as we make our way out of recession. (Not that I claim to know when that will be…)


Having a high level of engagement within the workforce will be critical as once the employment markets free up companies will lose more people than they desire. This is because many have simply put their head down to stay employed but they will jump ship once opportunities begin to present themselves. Therefore engage with them now if you want to retain them in better times.


The same applies to spending energy now on recruitment processes, tools and training. Even if your not hiring get prepared because things could change quite quickly. So in my view now is a great time to:

  • Keep building your talentpool
  • Stay in contact with future talent
  • Invest in your employment brand
  • Investigate all candidate sourcing channels

Who knows whats around the corner?

Which way ahead?

It’s tough out there so what way should we look? I suggest we look backwards and fast.

1. Looking to far ahead could suggest we believe economic commentators and base our business decisions on what they may be saying. I don’t think they actually know! They may fool us into forgetting about our bottom line and the performance of our people.

2. Keeping our head down will certainly lead to doom as at the very least we need to be out and about having discussions. Raising our external focus will help us to make our own judgement calls.

3. So I suggest look backwards and fast!

What I mean is that to get through this next period we must revert to the basics. Re-commit to being very good at what we do. This means investment in training, coaching the right people but not being afraid of removing either negative influences or people simply in the wrong job.

As my industry is recruitment I get no satisfaction from the stories of redundancies and close downs. I do however understand it and believe we should have seen it coming. The last 6 years or so have seen people succeed in recruitment without well rounded consulting skills and these times are difficult for those not well versed in the basics. Our people need to able able to build relationships, gain trust, manage expectations, unearth opportunities, deliver, manage their time and keep a balance in their lives. NOT an easy thing! However it is this range of skills that were required 20 years ago when our industry went through another challenge period. We will get through but we must be GREAT at what we do other our relevance to clients and candidates will be marginalised.Look Back!

Tom Peters & Tough Times

I spent a day listening to Tom Peters last week. Articulate, pragmatic and passionate! However the most interesting thing for me is that the so called “Uber Guru” of management consultants delivers a very simple message. To say he is people centric is a gross understatement. Listen, Talk, Act with kindness, Put your team ahead of your customers, Take care of the little things, become OBSESSED with hiring the right people, say thankyou and keep trying things.

That’s the strategy for these tough times. For me I love that! Forget high level strategic retoric and focus on the pragmatic little things that are so important to our people. These are the things that will have our people engaged and doing the best they can.

I’ve devoured his book Re-Imagine and many of themes within his book were picked up in his presentation. I didn’t get the WOW factor from the day but I did get a stark reminder of how important the basics he refers to are. I’m getting my team to read his blogs, look at his presentation notes and act on these key messages because I believe he is right!


Winning Culture…

You have to give the Warriors a big rap for their performances over the last two weeks. The most striking thing for me is how they seem so controlled and playing with with total confidence in and respect for eachother. It reminds me of sitting in the Olympic stadium watching the Wallabies knock the All Blacks out of the 2003 Rugby World Cup. That day in Sydney the Wallabies were just like the Warriors are now picking each other up after mistakes and applauding each other for the good stuff. It has a real energy about it and you could see that day the ABs did not have that same team culture!

It’s everything we aim for in our own businesses I’m sure and what better demonstration off it than in a Sports Team right in the high performance ZONE!

Well Done to everyone at the Warriors I’m loving it!